Rethinking Society Over a Cup of Coffee

A Paralyzed CARP

Congress has passed a Joint Resolution No. 19 which extends the life of CARP for another six months. The extension excluded the compulsory mode of acquisition which is the “the life and soul of carp” . Prospero Nograles said the resolution saved the life of CARP which ends this month. It saved (kuno) but paralyzed it.

There are still 1.3 million hectares of land waiting to be distributed, more than 60% of these or 640,000 hectares are under the compulsory acquisition mode. Joint Resolution No. 19 is obviously protecting these 640, 000 hectares of land. Congress is dominated by landlords, this bill is “their bill” and not for the people which they are supposed to represent. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is really leading by example not only in corruption but also in pushing for Agrarian Reform. The Arroyo family is reported to own roughly 500 hectares of sugar lands in Negros Occidental, including the 150-ha Hacienda Bacan, which has evaded CARP coverage.

The extension is supposed to give congress more time to come-up with an “acceptable legislation”, acceptable to whom? I just hope that they will not extend and extend CARP until it is dismantled and lifeless. Agrarian reform advocates are already fearful of a slow kill of the program.

There are several bills in the House of Representatives which are waiting for more debates and discussion, bills which have been put in the background in their efforts to extend the term of their boss.

In the next post, I will try to write about the four options among the many bills in Congress on CARP Extension.

1. Simple Extension
2. CARP-ER (CARP Extension with Reforms)
3. Major Changes to CARP
4. GARA (Genuine Agrarian Reform Act)

CARP Reform and Extend

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform was supposed to be completed in ten years since the start of its implementation. After a decade it was extended for 8 years which ended last june 2008. Under the program, the Department of Agrarian Reform is tasked to distribute public agricultural lands while the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is tasked to distribute public lands.

DAR Claims that it has accomplished 85% (most are public lands) of the total targeted lands for distribution, with 2.129 million farmer beneficiaries at a total cost of 103.9 billion pesos. But these figures are highly disputed.

It is believe that only 40% of the targeted lands were distributed (this according to UNORKA, PEACE AND PAARDS). DAR also decreased its scope from 10.3 to 8.064 million hectares. In 1996, DAR also made change in CARP scope. There are also many exemptions including the so-called cattle ranches, an example is the 3000 hectare Sutton estate in Masbate in which the supreme court affirmed that lands devoted to raising livestock, poultry and swine have been classified as industrial. As a result, 150 tenants and 147 landless laborers have been denied the opportunity to acquire land. The reduction in target is also attributed to Land Conversion like in the case of the Sumilao Farmers.

Despite the many weaknesses of the program which includes weaknesses in the law, poor administrative capacity, institutional weaknesses, corruption and the use of political influence, CARP also made some gains. That is why there is a push for reforming and extending it.

(Note: this is based on a paper, "Agrarian Reform and Rural Development - Mapping the Terrain" by Arthur Neame)

"Walang Gloria sa Cha-Cha"

In a Democracy, elections should be held sacred.

There are a lot of political movements going on lately, the ouster of many villar as senate president, talks of charter change, term extension, impeachment, to name a few.
The timing for charter change is already very suspicious. As the term of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ends, there is a move of charter change and term extension. As I remember in 2004 presidential election, Federalist here in Cagayan de Oro supported Gloria because she promised that when she is elected she will move for a Federal System of Government. When she got elected she was silent on the issue and never talked about it. The point is she just said she supported a move for charter change only for political gains. Now, as her term ends, Cha-cha resumes.

Any talk of Charter Change should only be done when Gloria is already out of office.

“Walang Gloria sa Cha-Cha”

Human Rights Day

Today, December 10, 2008, is Human Rights day, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which the Philippines is a signatory. It is supposed to be a celebration but I think it should be a time for mourning.

Over the last eight years of Arroyo administration, Karapatan, a human rights group, documented 977 victims of extrajudicial killings, 1,010 victims of torture, 1,464 were illegally arrested and no single conviction. NO SINGLE CONVICTION.

As Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term ends, pro-administration lawmakers are busy pushing for charter change. Behind all these are four human rights bill which desperately needs attention from the lawmakers. There is a bill seeking to compensate victims of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the bills against torture and forced disappearances, and the bill on internally displaced people.

I guess extending the term of a President who was elected through “hello Garci” is more important than giving justice to the victims of extra-judicial killings.

Note: Please sign the online petition to stop Extra-Judicial Killings in the Philippines at

Manny Pacquaio vs Oscar de La Hoya

“It’s a mismatch, De la Hoya is way too big for Pacquaio”. “De la Hoya will knock-down Pacquiao”.

These are some of the comments before the fight. Six inches reach advantage, 4 inches height advantage, their comments is not without basis. Pacquiao was a 2-1 underdog, De la Hoya fought in the super welterweight or middle weight in the last seven years, Pacquiao fought 75% of his fights at super bantamweight or lower. But when moment the bell rang, Pacquaio wrote another story, a story of hard work, speed and punching power.

It is not the first time that Manny Pacquaio was the underdog in a fight. I remember his first fight with Marco Antonio Barrera. The crowd was almost filled by Barrera fans, Manny was not famous yet and no senator or congressmen was there to watch his fight. Barrera was known to be a skilled and better fighter than pacquiao but as what happened with his fight against De La Hoya, Manny wrote another story.

Manny Pacquaio is really phenomenal not only in boxing but also for the whole country as well. Once again during his fight, zero crime rate, no armed encounter between government troops and the rebel groups, no traffic jam. For and hour or two, the whole country stands still and is united, rich and poor, young and old, administration and opposition, criminals and policemen/women, rebels and government troops are all watching Manny Pacquiao fight, cheering everytime Manny lands a punch.

I wish the Philippines will have a story like Manny Pacquiao who literally fought his way out of poverty. At the young age of 15, worked in a tailoring shop during the day and trained at 5pm. He has also worked in a construction as a painter and welder and sold flowers in front of the church during Sundays.

As a Nation maybe we can fight our way out of poverty and corruption.

Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Revisited (Part 1)

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP, was implemented on June 10, 1988 under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law or Republic Act 6657. It withstood an intense and furious debate in and outside of Congress. CARP is backed by provisions in Article XIII of the 1987 Philippine constitution which states that;

The State shall, by law, undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till or, in the case of other farmworkers, to receive a just share of the fruits thereof. To this end,the State shall encourage and undertake the just distribution of all agricultural lands, subject to such priorities and reasonable retention limits as the Congress may prescribe, taking into account ecological, developmental, or equity considerations, and subject to the payment of just compensation. In determining retention limits, the State shall respect the right of small landowners. The State shall further provide incentives for voluntary land-sharing.

Section 5. The State shall recognize the right of farmers, farmworkers, and landowners, as well as cooperatives, and other independent farmers' organizations to participate in the planning,organization, and management of the program, and shall provide support to agriculture through appropriate technology and research, and adequate financial, production, marketing, and other support services.

Section 6. The State shall apply the principles of agrarian reform or stewardship, whenever applicable in accordance with law, in the disposition or utilization of other natural resources, including lands of the public domain under lease or concession suitable to agriculture, subject to prior rights, homestead rights of small settlers, and the rights of indigenous communities to their ancestral lands.

These are beautifully worded paragraphs from our constitution. At first glance, it seems that social justice is at hand. But it is not what it seems, “the devil is in the details” so this say. There are loopholes and the farmers already know about this. I have attended one of the Mindanao Rural Congress and farmers from different places experience the same things. A simple legal technicality can turn the tables against them. Landlords can escape coverage in their lands in crevices in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The implementation of the Program ended last June 2008, its fate yet to be decided and farmers and civil society seems to be divided. Some support the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (HB 3059), while the others support a CARP Reform and Extension.